Bush craft mechanic in Switzerland

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June 13th 2013
Published: June 15th 2013
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Day 11 - Still in the Lugano region of Switzerland

Today was supposed to be a day to relax. Perhaps do a little simple car maintenance to make sure the car is fit for the next leg of the journey.

After a simple and relaxing breakfast, I checked the car out for the usual items such as the engine oil. fuel pre-filter and finally the level of the gearbox oil. I was shocked to find the level had dropped to a very low level despite the litre of oil added yesterday. I crawled under the bonnet to examine the vehicle. The bottom had been covered in oil for a while so no surprises there. Then, I noticed there was a hole under the gearbox where a nut should have been. There is the source of the leak.

I drove to a nearby garage, showed them a picture of the hole and thankfully they instantly knew what to do. He tried 4 different sized onbolts, but none were the right size; so they sent me to the next garage and so on until the 4th one. It was a Mercedes garage which was oddly called "Germania" in Italian. Bad news -there was no bolt in Switzerland, I had to get the part from Germany. i politely declined as I was not prepared to drive to Germany for a bit of metal.

The Mercedes dealer did however manage to locate a fuel cap, but I had to drive to another dealership to pick it up, You know the story by now; I have spent most of the day driving between garages. Paid 90 Swiss Francs for the fuel cap.

That still leaves the most critical issue unresolved.

Back in camp, I measured the hole, it was about the size of my index finger. Using my specially trained bushcraft mechanical skills, I decided to perform a delicate operation on part of the automatic gearbox. I looked around the camp and found a twig the size of my index finger. Sawed a part off, wrapped some PTFE tape on the tip and then screwed it to the hole; voila - a makeshift bolt. It worked!

I poured what was left of the ATF oil into the gearbox. It wasn't enough but will have to do. Topped up another litre of engine oil.

Then the inverter broke apart, so I had to fix and re-position it so it does not break again.

What a day. It was more exhausting than driving.

At 5pm, I started to cook my dinner and was able to finally relax a little. My clothes and me were covered in all sorts of oil and black muck. It was time to shower and clean myself.

Early night tonight. Tomorrow is another major milestone, as I will be heading east from now on.

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15th June 2013

Good solution!
But I hope you find the right part eventually.

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